Bradford went back to the top of
the table despite being forced to share the honours in a pulsating Super
League clash of the titans.
A 70th-minute drop goal from Wigan captain
Andy Farrell rescued a draw for his side and, despite dropping four points
in their last four away games, the point is enough to enable the Bulls
overtake St Helens on points difference.
After scoring two tries to one, Wigan probably deserved to take both
points for a wholehearted performance in front of a bumper crowd of
17,365, a record for the JJB Stadium and the highest in Super League this
Former Wigan favourite Henry Paul was a thorn in the side of his old
club by kicking four goals while Wigan-born scrum-half Paul Deacon, a
player who lives just five minutes from the JJB Stadium, scored Bradford's
The game was a personal triumph for Wigan and Great Britain captain
Andy Farrell, who was sin-binned for the second successive match but came
back to play a pivotal role in the Warriors' impressive second-half show.
The importance of the occasion was not lost on the players and the
tension-filled encounter erupted into a free-for-all after 25 minutes.
Farrell, sin-binned during Wigan's defeat in their last match at Leeds,
was ordered along with Bradford prop Stuart Fielden to cool off after
appearing to head-butt hooker James Lowes in the middle of an ugly
exchange involving most of the 26 players.
The game, a war of attrition for most of the first half, opened out
into a free-flowing encounter after referee Russell Smith's decisive
action but defences remained largely on top.
Paul, playing out of position at centre in an injury-hit Bradford back
line, kicked a couple of early penalties to cancel out an eighth-minute
try by Warriors hooker Terry Newton, who forced his way over from dummy
Chances were spurned at either end as both sides scrambled to great
effect but Deacon broke the deadlock a minute before the break when he
jinked his way through a fragmented Warriors defence from 20 metres out
and Paul's third goal gave the visitors a six-point lead.
Wigan, fresh from a 12-day break, lost full-back Kris Radlinski to a
leg injury midway through the first half but Jason Robinson, switched from
the wing, was the home side's most dangerous attacker and he ought to have
scored early in the second half.
Farrell produced a beautiful shimmy to open up the Bulls defence 40
metres out but Robinson lost the ball in Leon Pryce's tackle as he slid
over the tryline.
Steady drizzle resulted in a series of handling errors and Wigan were
quick to seize on a dropped pass on his own 10-metre line by Deacon.
Willie Peters went on an arcing run and centre Gary Connolly took an
inside ball and wrong-footed defender Mike Forshaw to cross for his side's
Farrell, unfortunate to strike an upright with his first conversion
attempt, kicked the goal this time to level the scores and Wigan went back
in front on 56 minutes when Peters landed the second of two drop-goal
attempts to make it 11-10.
Paul's fourth successful penalty - his only miss was an ambitious
effort three metres from the halfway line - edged the Bulls back in front
but Farrell restored parity with his vital one-pointer.
In a dramatic finish, Wigan almost snatched victory when Robinson broke
free after a typical dazzling run but was brought down by Nathan McAvoy's
Bulls second rower David Boyle was sin-binned for laying on in the
resultant tackle and Farrell and Peters were both wide with further